SACKS, Oliver. An Anthropologist on Mars. London: Picador, 1995.
8vo. Publisher's maroon boards, spine lettered in silver; in the original pictorial dust-wrapper (not price-clipped); pp. [vii], viii-xvi, [i], 2-319; with numerous colour and black-and-white illustrations on glossy paper; author's gift inscription in ink to front fly-leaf; very light unobtrusive marks to lower panel of wrapper; else fine.
First UK edition, inscribed by Sacks to his niece in purple ink: 'For my dearest Liz, who has helped me with this book, as she gave me the title for the last - with all my thanks and best wishes - Olly 1/95.' The previous book he is referring to is Seeing Voices, with the title taken adapted from Pyramus's words to Thisbe in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. There is an acknowledgement to Elizabeth on p. vii.
A collection of seven medical case histories by the renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks. Among those studied are:
'The Last Hippie' - concerning a man who cannot remember anything since the late 1960s, due to a brain tumour. Sacks draws parallels here with the case of Phineas Gage, the American railroad worker who survived for eleven years after an accident in which a large iron rod was driven through his head.
'A Surgeon's Life' - the subject suffers from Tourette's syndrome, and in particular a series of ticks, which disappear when he is operating.
the title story, which details Sacks' meeting with Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who is a world-renowned designer of humane livestock facilities and a professor at Colorado State University.
When researching the gifts of savant Stephen Wiltshire, who features in this book, Oliver describes a significant and illuminating episode in which he sought out the expertise of his niece Elizabeth. She accompanied him to a location in West Hampstead and, during this time, he asked for her assessment of Stephen’s prowess (coincidentally, Stephen had, since the age of 3, been a patient of Oliver’s brother Dr David Sacks). Elizabeth vividly remembers the room in which Stephen played the piano, and their shared astonishment of Stephen’s gifts. "Liz said, 'Improvisation is easy, you do it off the top of your head'… What she did find remarkable was how Stephen had infused his improvisations with feeling, with something of himself; how he had made them 'creative, daring, and dramatically interesting'." (p.227).